The United States entered the war at the psychological and critical moment. We enter it at the moment when our economic and financial resources, and our determination will have the decisive influence. We enter at the moment when every one of our future acts will assist and help the democratic movement in Germany succeed.
The United States entered the war at a time when many Americans believed the Allies were about to win it. By May 1st, 1917, the situation so changed in Europe that it was apparent to observers that only by the most stupendous efforts of all the Allies could the German Government be defeated.
At the very beginning of the war, when Teutonic militarism spread over Europe, it was like a forest fire. But two years of fighting have checked it—as woodsmen check forest fires—by digging ditches and preventing the flames from spreading. Unlimited submarine warfare, however, is something new. It is militarism spreading to the high seas and to the shores of neutrals. It is Ruthlessism—the new German menace, which is as real and dangerous for us and for South America as for England and the Allies. If we hold out until Ruthlessism spends its fury, we will win. But we must fight and fight desperately to hold out.
Dr. Kaempf, President of the Reichstag, declared that President Wilson would “bite marble” before the war was over. And the success of submarine warfare during April and the first part of May was such as to arouse the whole world to the almost indefinite possibilities of this means of fighting. The real crisis of the war has not been reached. We are approaching it. The Allies have attempted for two years without much success to curb the U-boat danger. They have attempted to build steel ships, also without success, so that the real burden of winning the war in Europe falls upon American shoulders.
Fortunately for the United States we are not making the blunders at the beginning of our intervention which some of the European nations have been making since August, 1914. America is awakened to the needs of modern war as no other nation was, thanks to the splendid work which the American newspapers and magazines have done during the war to present clearly, fairly and accurately not only the great issues but the problems of organisation and military tactics. The people of the United States are better informed about the war as a whole than are the people in any European country. American newspapers have not made the mistakes which English and French journals made—of hating the enemy so furiously as to think that nothing more than criticism and hate were necessary to defeat him. Not until this year could one of Great Britain’s statesmen declare: “You can damn the Germans until you are blue in the face, but that will not beat them.”
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